Wednesday, June 27, 2012

NO! I don't WANT to.

     Are 49 year olds allowed to have selfish little temper tantrums every once in awhile, or is that not acceptable at all at my age?  Because right now, I very much want to. I want to just cross my arms, stomp my foot (my left one, not my right) and say "NO! I WON"T have surgery. No, No, No. I don't WANT to."  I don't have TIME for this inconvenience in my life.
     Awhile back, I don't even remember when it began, my right foot/ankle started to hurt occasionally, if I overused it with excess activity, or by wearing an uncomfortable shoe. I ignored it. I am NEVER one to rush to the Dr. at the first sign of pain. My philosophy usually is, wait and see if it goes away, or gets worse. Usually things go away. If it gets worse, then I'll check it out.
     The weekend I was at Glen Highland Farm, back in April, or May, whenever it was, I had to wear my Bogs (barn boots) a lot, because the grass where I was walking the dogs was pretty wet. I noticed that my ankle hurt a lot that weekend. Especially when I was climbing an uneven bank near the end of the route, to get back up to road level.  In fact, it hurt and burned so badly that I was afraid, for a little bit, that maybe something was broken.  But, then, once home, it seemed to settle down again.  It didn't bother me much in Alaska, not even in the same boots there. Only the day I climbed in and around the pond, jumping from tuft to tuft, it hurt some. But I went barefoot a lot there, too, in the house.
     Back at home, wearing flip flops 24/7 (every podiatrists nightmare, I know... Sorry, Dr. Scott), it was usually pretty good. But the day I wore sneakers for Field Day at school, and played a fierce game of kickball with my 5th and 6th graders, it burned so badly on my way back over to school that I was convinced, finally, there was something wrong. I made an appointment and went to see my favorite podiatrist on Monday. (He did my first foot surgery 26 years ago this fall... we've both aged a bit since then!)  He sent me for an immediate MRI, which confirmed what he suspected, and told me: my right peroneal tendon is torn, and needs surgery so that it doesn't rupture completely.
     His office, and a surgeon from there whom I don't know, called and talked to me this morning about it. It is a pretty big tear, there's no way that anything OTHER than surgery will work, and it should be done sooner, rather than later. That's when I began my denials.... "no, I CAN'T do it. There's no way. I can't be off my feet that long. I have things to do. It's SUMMER. It's my summer VACATION. From school. You know, that place I hate? I look forward to this ALL YEAR LONG..."  UGH.  I said I'd let them know.  Well, reasonably, I really have no choice. I can't NOT have surgery. The obvious conclusion is, if I don't, it WILL rupture, and it's not like I can have any kind of an active life with a ruptured tendon in my foot. So, obviously, I HAVE to do it. It's a matter of WHEN, now.
     So, truly, I CAN"T do it this summer. I am the only ride my daughter has back and forth to work 15 miles away every day, and I'm not having her quit her job. She needs it and I need her to have it. I also have that vacation in Maine in August. Selfish, I know, and I could skip that, but I don't WANT to. I really want to go. And we have to take her to college in Maine on Labor Day weekend. That would be pretty uncomfortable to go in a cast, or a boot and crutches. And what if I couldn't go at all by then? That would stink. So, now, I'm thinking, OK, yes, I'll do it, but I want to wait until September.( Or October?) I want to get my daughter off to college, get the school year started, and THEN I'll do it. I'll have to miss a month of school, at least, and I was reading a bunch of posts on Runners World from people who have had this surgery and it isn't pretty. The recovery time is not exaggerated. And it involves a lot of PT afterwards as well. S**t. I JUST don't want to do this. I hate pain. I hate pain meds. I can't imagine being laid up. I don't want to have my legand foot cut open. No, no, no, no, no. NO!!!  I wish I could go back in time, figure out when and how I did this, and NOT DO IT.  How do you get to the bathroom, or make your lunch, or let the dogs out, if you have to literally be off your feet for two weeks or more? How do I go upstairs to bed, and downstairs during the day? I will NOT use a bedpan. Don't even suggest that........
     I'll be off looking for acceptance, and trying to lose the desperate need to refuse and cry that I feel right now. I know it is not, in the overall scheme of life, more than a darned inconvenience. I do know that. But at the moment, I am feeling, selfishly, like I just don't WANT this painful inconvenience to be happening to ME. Fear and annoyance are not good companions. I'll lose them soon, and replace them with perspective and acceptance. But probably not today.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


     Summer is just gettting started here. I know that, in the blink of an eye, it will be September again, and I will wonder how it happened, but for now, I just want to live day by day, hour by hour, enjoying, not looking too far ahead.
     It is positively amazing to me what not having to get up and go to school, of being relieved of all of school's paperwork and stress for two months, does for my mood. It is like having the world lifted off my shoulders, all at once. I could float, I am so relieved. 
     Things that often are just as good, but go unnoticed, or at least are not nearly as celebrated as they are when I am this much happier, made their way into the start of a "happy list" on Sunday.
  •      I HAD a broody hen for a week. I was ecstatic, because I've never had one before, and the thought of one of my own hens, raising her own baby chicks, not to mention the cuteness of new baby chicks peeking out from under a protective mama hen's wings, was thrilling. Unfortunately, no sooner had I listed "broody hen" on my list of happy thoughts than she was off the nest and her eggs cold. I watched her all day, and by Sunday night, when she was roosting with the rest, rather than sitting, I removed the eggs. It still makes me happy to know that she has the potential, so maybe someday she will raise some babies of her own.

  • And, also on Sunday, I had 8 "nearly teen-age" chicks delivered to me, all hens.  My friend Steph and I ordered them, and they came in, to her house, on June 4th or 5th, so she's kept them for me til I was able to see her Sunday. I missed the cute fuzzy baby chick phase, but it's ok. I know that these 8 are all females, no roos to have to dispose of later, and I also handpicked the breeds, so I'm pretty excited to have them. And I was also able to put them right out into the little tiny coop, not have to have them in the house except overnight. That's a HUGE plus!

  • Two days before school was done, I got a text from a friend I work with, asking if I wanted to go to Maine with them for a week in August. It will be her family (mom, dad, two kids I know and like a lot), her brother whom I also like a lot, our mutual work friend whose child committed suicide on Easter, and her other son, and me. It's at a cabin, or camp house, on Mattawampkeag Lake, near Island Falls, that she has described for me before, and there will be fishing, and campfires, and boating, and hiking. I'm REALLLLLLLY excited. Not Alaska-excited, but still, Maine excited. That's a good thing! 
  • My youngest graduated on Friday night. I'm not thrilled about that - she doubled up and did her Jr and Sr year together, AND she has a late birthday to begin with, so she will be going off to college, 12 + hours away from here,  even before her 17th birthday. I have a lot of reservations, even though I am proud of her effort and success (she still managed to be 3rd in her class, and was only 1/100th of a point off from the Valdictorian and Salutatorian) But what I AM happy about it that her graduation party is done. And was a relative success. I do not do parties well. I was super stressed. But now, it's over and done with, it isn't hanging over my head for the rest of the summer, and I'm happy!  AND, to top it all off, I was able to chat with her boyfriend's parents for a few minutes, and they were very nice. I really liked them. They were the ones I was most worried about, having at my home, because I feel like there is no way I can live up to their nice home and all, but they did seem much less scary by the end. Whew!
  • My fireweed is growing!  It is an Alaskan plant, which grows wild there, and is truly more of a weed than anything anyone there cultivates. It grows wild and reproduces like crazy. I love it. I love the folklore that accompanies it: since it blooms from the bottom up, when the very tip has bloomed, it is claimed that the first snow is only two weeks off. Any snow that coats the mountain tops while the fireweed is blooming is called Termination Dust, and it simply means the "termination of" or end of, summer. Mine is blooming much earlier here than it does in AK, probably because of the difference in temperature here, and probably also because of when I actually planted it. No matter to me. Just simply glad that I was able to find some (Thank you, Prairie Moon Nursery) and plant it, and that it grew. It is growing WELL. I am hopeful that in a few years, I will have such an abundance of it that I can transplant some of it to the fenceline in my back yard, and have it grow and spread back there as well. Not to be greedy, or push my luck, but the other thing I'd LIKE to try is wild lupines, like I also saw a multitude of this year. Prairie Moon carries those, as well, but is out of stock at the moment. They are supposed to be planted in fall, so I'll just keep checking. (I tried to bring a blue poppy home from Big Lake, and it sort of was alive when I got it here, but I promptly killed it off. I think I know my limits...

Wild blue lupines. They grow everywhere!

  • And, last but not least, it's time for the summer "I'm out of school" coffee mugs to be dug out of the cupboard. Yesterday was the yellow one, today it's the blue...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Night Flight, or "How to Save a Life"

Not great photos. From my phone camera, in the dark last night. But I like the feel of them, and what they represent. Ambulance call last night - motorcycle accident, single victim. Wearing a helmet, but face like hamburger anyway.  Life-Net called in, landed in a field just around the corner, and whisked him away. I am in awe. Every time. Mercy Flight and Life Net. Saving lives that would have been lost in another time and place. I love that my fingers reach out and touch the very tip of a miracle every time they are called in. Saving lives, one flight at a time.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

If You're Bringing Worms, We Aren't Fishing!

Today is one of my very favorite days of the whole year: the last day of kids at school! YAY. It's not the "last day of school," not the last day I have to show up. I have two more of those. But I have always said school without the kids there would be a great place to work, so the next two days, I don't even mind that I still have to get up and go to work when the entire rest of the western world has been out of school for at least three weeks. (Some places have been out for more than a month. And yes, they go back in August, but not that much ahead of me. I guess we simply must have more vacations during the year than other places. I do know we all basically have a similar number of required teaching days, so that has to be where the discrepancy lies.) Anyhow, one day last week, this guy, who also happens to be the father of one of our 5th graders, came in to show the kids more about fly-tying. Our 5th graders go to an outdoor camp for three days in early June where one of the things they do is learn to tie a fishing fly. But theirs are very basic and simple. So one of my co-teachers had this guy come in to show a little more about it. Since I don't go to camp with them, AND since learning how to fly fish (of sorts - I learned that what I really want to learn is not necessarily true "fly fishing") is on my bucket list, I went over to watch and listen along with the kids.

It was truly fascinating. There is a whole entire language devoted to the sport of fishing that I simply was unaware of. I really had no idea what he was talking about most of the time, since I've never really fished, other than putting a worm on a hook and dropping my line in a lake.  (I did catch one fish when I was 12 and my dad took me fishing, but I haven't spent the rest of my life pining to repeat that experience) There is a science, an art, to the whole hobby, and I loved his complete absorption in it. He is a SERIOUS fisherman.
I know I found it far more interesting than many of the kids did, but it goes along with something one of my other co-workers mentioned a couple of weeks ago. I think I was extolling, at the time,  on my education  while in Alaska on  dog poop, and what the sled dog's poop SHOULD look like, and what to do if it didn't look like it should, and what could account for it NOT looking like it should, etc.etc .About the time her eyes glazed over, (well, that happened when I first mentioned dog poop, I guess, but bless her heart, she continued to listen anyway)  she remarked, "You really do love learning new things, don't you?"  And it's true, I do. I LOVE LOVE LOVE learning new things. ANY new thing, really.  I eat up new 'languages', new ways of doing things, new hobbies, new experiences.  I would be very unhappy to feel that I had ever stopped learning things, or stopped being excited about learning something new. So, watching him talk about the equipment needed, the types of feathers and furs he uses,and why,  watching him talk about the science of creating a fly that has a tail, a body, a thorax, wings, a head and antennae, and watching him demonstrate so easily how he creates different flies was totally cool.

I think it is a hobby I might enjoy doing, someday. Not right now. It's not tops on my list, because I still have too many other things I enjoy, currently. But it is almost like a craft, the making of the flies, and I enjoy crafts. But it takes a lot of skill and practice to get them to be good enough to fool the fish. I think that's cool, too, because the more you make, the better you'd get at them. And, since I do have an interest in learning how to fish with flies, it is related and connected for me.

He is the one who said that THIS is fishing. He said if someone new asks him if he wants to go fishing, he says, "Are you bringing worms?"  If they say yes, he replies, "no thanks, that's not fishing." For him, FISHING means you cast the line in, jerk it just so, skip it along the water, or sink it, depending on many things. Then you pull it out, and do it again. It seemed to be a lot of casting, pulling, constant walking along in the water. THAT sounds way more fun than what I THOUGHT fishing involved. My only experience with fishing was spearing a worm, throwing the line in the lake, and then waiting, waiting, waiting. BO-RING. I really didn't understand why people enjoyed that. AND I had no idea there was any other way TO fish, except maybe FLY FISHING, you know, the kind we all watched in A River Runs Through It?  With this new knowledge of fishing, I now also understand why people who TRULY fish also do "catch and release." It's a sport. I was under the impression that after all that time sitting on a bank with your line in the water, if  you actually managed to get a fish to eat your worm, why would you throw him back? But now, now I get it. So, all in all, it's been a pretty good week, after that one rough patch early last week. It doesn't rank right up there with my all time coolest things to do or learn about, (dog poop is FAR more fascinating, honest) but I did find it interesting, and am looking forward to learning more about fishing, about fly tying, about anything new, really, as life goes on. To be a life-long learner. Trite, but it really does fit my goals, I guess.
(PS Two more days until summer vacation...  :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Ups and Downs

Tuesday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, day. It was a terrible day at school, and I went home and it was a terrible day at home. I was angry. Furiously angry. And when I'm angry, I say things I don't want to say, and I cry. I hate crying. I went upstairs because that was the only place left to retreat to. I laid on the bed and sobbed, and sobbed, and sobbed. Every time I would stop crying, and think I was done, I would remember that "oh yeah, and tomorrow is FIELD DAY."  For some reason, not a very rational one, I hate field day at school. HATE it. I always have. And it seemed to me to be the ultimate insult, that on top of everything else that was wrong, I also had to endure field day the next day.
Yesterday, Wednesday, is over. Field day is done. And, apparently, so are many of the other things that were plaguing me on Tuesday. By 5:00 yesterday, I was in such a good mood I actually came home and did the dishes, just because I felt better, felt SO much better from 24 hours before.  Its funny how one day, everything looks black and gloomy and sad and bad and awful, and yet, just 24 hours later, so much can be better that you even feel happy, actually HAPPY, again. Life is just strange sometimes.